HEILIGENBLUT, Austria (VN) – Monte Crostis, the brutal climb and harrowing descent that had everyone in the peloton on edge, is out of the Giro d’Italia.
The UCI race jury, led by Belgian Thierry Diederen, ruled Friday evening that the Monte Crostis should be eliminated from stage 14’s route, citing lack of access for ambulances and an uneven race surface as its primary reasons for pulling the section out of Saturday’s decisive stage from Austria to the Monte Zoncolan summit.
Race organizers worked to reroute the stage, most likely skirting the climb after crossing back into Italy from its start in Austria and approaching the Zoncolan summit from the west without the detour over the Crostis.
Tensions had been rising in the days leading up to Saturday’s stage and the decision will certainly come as a relief to riders and sport directors who feared the worst on the Crostis climb and descent.
Crews had paved over sections of the gravel road as well as rolled compressors over other sections in an attempt to make the road surface safer. Fencing, netting and padding were also installed on the steep and narrow descent to appease riders’ fears. Several top riders approached Giro race director Angelo Zomegnan last weekend about their concerns. Two days ago, sport directors also complained that riders would be isolated without mechanical support or quick access to ambulance and health services.
Crostis was supposed to be one of the hallmarks of this year’s Giro, but worries about safety carried the day. The death of Belgian rider Wouter Weylandt in stage 3 and forecasts for rain and wind also likely played a role in spurring the race jury’s decision.
Zomegnan told La Gazzetta della Sport he accepted the jury’s decision, but insisted that safety and sporting issues were properly addressed when designing the route over the steep road.
Fans who camped overnight to line the course might be in for a surprise, however. Officials said they are being notified and being urged to head toward the Zoncolan summit.